App Review: MUSICA touch
I want to kick off this blog with a little review on an app I have recently found. It is called MUSICA touch, developed by a company called Ars Nova (yep, like the musical style). Generally it is meant to be an app to nurture your overall musicianship, offering exercises for Ear Training, Music Theory and more. One aspect however is especially interesting for composers seeking to beef up their skills in the art of Counterpoint.
If you download the app, which is free with in-app purchases, you are greeted by a screen that looks something like this:
In the section named "Counterpoint" you can find exercises in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th species and can choose to do writing in two, three or four parts. In addition, you can also opt to train your skills in emulating the style of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594), who was one of the great masters of Rennaisance counterpoint.
What the app does is pure magic. It actually invents a cantus firmus in Renaissance style and then you can compose a counterpoint within the app. As soon as you think you are done, you click "Evaluate" and the app does actually tell you if you have written according to the stylistic conventions. If not, it tells you exactly what you got wrong, so that you can have another try until everything is correct.
It is great fun and the advice given in the app is really good. They even put in a little crash course in Renaissance counterpoint in there so you would not even have to buy a book if you really want to save money (however I strongly recommend doing so).
MUSICA touch helps to get better at writing counterpoint, however I also need to point out that of course it will not teach you to write good music. Playing by the rules is one thing, but if you want to create great art this is only the first step. Listen to a lot of pieces from the Renaissance era and get yourself familiar with its sound. This will help you to judge not only if the writing is stylistically adequate, but also if it is good on an artistic level.
To sum it up, I can really recommend MUSICA touch if you want to work on your counterpoint skills. I think I paid 7,99 Euros for access to the counterpoint section which is even less than you would pay for a book on the subject. Nonetheless I want to point out the following classic book if you are interested in diving more deeply into the matter:
Gioseffo Zarlino: The Art of Counterpoint, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1976.